Birthday Lady MTRCB chief Rachel Arenas (standing, right) with former Partylist Rep. Delph Lee, Tessie Sy Coson (seated, left) and Vice Pres. Leni Robredo
Rachel’s 4th birthday wish is ‘secret’
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2019 - 12:00am

When MTRCB chief Rachel Arenas hosted a dinner two days (Nov. 13) in advance for her 48th birthday (Nov. 15) recently, she made three wishes but kept the fourth one a big “secret.”

“First, that the persons closest to my heart be always healthy, happy and safe.

“Second, that those suffering because of sickness, injustice and brokenness may be uplifted and healed.

“And third, that I be more of a blessing to others, and leave the world better than I found it!”

Since almost three years ago when she replaced Eugenio “Toto” Villareal as MTRCB chief, Rachel has never been, knock on wood, rocked by controversy. When the protest against the showing of Abominable (due to a controversial map of the West Philippine Sea) came up, the MTRCB had it pulled out of the cinema just as did authorities in Malaysia and Vietnam.

The same objection was raised against the Spanish film Elcano and Magellan (in which Lapu-Lapu is made to look like a kontrabida) and the MTRCB must be “cautious” when the members review it. Faced with (actually minor) issues like that, Rachel usually keeps her cool, thanks to her experience as a congresswoman when she dealt with seemingly insurmountable problems.

Asked how she did it, Rachel smiled, “With utmost caution and care.”

So far, so good.

“I am very grateful that we are running the agency smoothly,” said Rachel. “We have 30 board members which could mean 30 ‘republics’ but I am fortunate that we are able to rise above our differences and get the job done sans personal or political agenda. As for the industry, we hold lots and lots of dialogue with our stakeholders. Everything is done with patience and humility.”

Incidentally, Rachel’s mom, Pangasinan Rep. Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas and the Association of Women Legislators Foundation, Inc. (AWLFI) visited the evacuation centers in Makilala, North Cotabato, where they distributed relief goods among the evacuees and displaced victims of the series of earthquakes that hit Mindanao last October.

“The relief operations were organized by Reps. Lorna Bautista-Bandigan, Claudine Diana Bautista and Cora Malanyaon,” noted Baby, AWFLI president.

The AWLFI team also included Deputy Speaker Evelina Escudero, and Reps. Aleta Suarez, Janette Garin, Josephine Ramirez-Sato, Janice Salimbangon, Lolypop Ouano-Dizon, Josie Tallado, Kristine Singson-Meehan, Mikki Violago and Eileen Ermita-Buhain, with Reps. Rodrigo Abellanosa and Wilfredo Caminero.

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)



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